This week I have put myself on a hiatus for two weeks from doing most of the workouts I normally do. It makes me a little crazy because I know there are folks out there who manage to run 10 miles in a day, bike, weight lift, play tennis, engage in whatever sport is theirs and seem to glide smoothly without so much as a limp. How is that?
Lately, I’ve been beating myself up about this very thing. Are these folks stronger and tougher? Or somehow smarter than I am?
I was told I needed to cut back on my activities because I was overtraining which was causing repetitive injuries with no time to really recover and heal. Well, now that is a little embarrassing. I am not professional athlete and, heck, I’m not even training for anything right now. If I lay out my schedule, though, I do teach multiple classes a week, sometimes more than one in a day and then try to get in my own workouts. It’s really hard to teach a class and not demonstrate and also do the moves. Once the music begins it’s just too much fun. So, if we do 20 -30 jump squats in a class and then a similar workout in another class I’m getting double the amount of stress on the joints. Then, I might be back at it again the next day with some other form of repetitive move. That’s probably not the smartest thing to do to this old body if I’m being honest with myself.
So, the moral of the story here is that we can ALL overtrain our bodies. ALL of our bodies need time to rest and recover. Lord knows I wouldn’t tell my classes to do the same type of workouts day in and day out. Whether you are a serious runner, play tennis every day, a step class junkie, or a fitness instructor you can set yourself up for some overtraining issues and what is known as Overtraining Syndrome.
a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual’s exercise exceeds their recovery capacity. They cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness. Overtraining is a common problem in weight training, but it can also be experienced by runners and other athletes. ~ Wikipedia
If you are wondering if you are setting yourself up, here are some of the symptoms:
Typical overtraining syndrome symptoms include (but are not limited to); weight loss or gain, fatigue, plateaus or loss of strength gains, persistent muscle soreness, joint aches and pains, elevated resting heart rate, sleep difficulties, depression, suppressed immunity and an increased incidence of illness and injury.
If any of this sounds familiar here’s a few things to remember:
1. Be Kind to your Body. Appreciate it for what it can do for you and stop beating it up! Allow your body time to rest and rejuvenate.
2. Get enough sleep. This is SO important. It allows your muscles, your nervous system and your entire body to recover and heal and grow.
3. Take a rest day or even more during the week. It will not sabotage your gains or your fitness level or your speed or strength.
4. Eat right and drink, drink, drink water. If you are working out too hard or exercising to compensate for a crappy diet you are definitely setting yourself up for disaster.
5. Add variations to your exercise routines. Try something new, vary the order of exercises, cross train. Reduce the intensity at times and go back to number 1. You don’t have to kill it and your body every day.
IF you are an instructor here are a few tips from Tamara over at Fitknitchick.com. I think I’ll try to practice some of what she is preaching. Might do you some good, too, even if this isn’t your job. . .
Limit the number of classes you teach (or attend). In the summer time, this is particularly difficult. Many of your colleagues will be taking time off for vacation and looking for subs to cover their classes. Don’t over-volunteer.
- If you do agree to sub extra classes, don’t participate fully in each one. Remember, when you’re teaching, it’s not your workout (unless you’re spinning; it’s really hard to fake your participation on a spinning bike!). I know that participants like to see their instructors participating, but it doesn’t need to be at your highest intensity.
- If you do consider some of your classes to be a ‘personal workout’, make sure you count them in your weekly workout schedule. I know many instructors who teach 6-8 classes each week and still feel the need to get another 3 or 4 of ‘their own’ workouts in.
- Choose lighter weights when teaching a class than you would when doing your own workout.
- Same with demonstrating exercises for your personal training clients. Many movements can bedemonstrated without any added weight at all.
- Make sure you’re not always demonstrating exercises with the same side of your body. When I teach group fitness, I face my class and always ‘concede the dominant’ to them. That means that I start unilateral exercises with my left arm or leg. Because I usually put my weights down after 5 or 6 reps and walk around the class coaching, my left side gets over-used relative to my right.
- Plan at least 1 day away from the gym or studio each week. It not only aids your physical health, it’s good for you psychologically as well.
- Treat your body well. Get lots of sleep and pay attention to nutrition.
- Branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) and glucosamine may speed up muscle recovery between classes and reduce joint pain and inflammation.
- See your doctor or physiotherapist at the first sign of an injury. Ignore little pains and clicks at your peril…
- Plan on a rest week every 3 months or so. No teaching, no clients, no working out. (This is probably the most difficult suggestion of all!).
Check out Tamara’s Post Here.
I’m working on following my own advice here for the next two weeks. I’m taking it easy in my classes, not doing any individual workouts, stretching, soaking, getting a massage and listening to my physical therapist and actually doing her recommendations! Not an easy thing. If you are feeling the aches and pains, constant muscle soreness, or any other of these symptoms – you know who you are! – Take it easy with me.
Have you ever experienced any of these symptoms? How do you avoid overtraining?
Have a GREAT FALL Day!!